Dean Fleming Paints the Fourth Dimension

I first discovered about Dean Fleming after I received {the catalogue} for the exhibition Reimagining Area: The Park Place Gallery Group in Nineteen Sixties New York, which was proven on the Blanton Museum in Austin (September 28, 2008–January 18, 2009) and curated by Linda Dalrymple Henderson. My curiosity on this group of painters and sculptors, and their preoccupation with house and the “fourth dimension” (which, in line with the press launch, means “a dimension past peak, size and width”) has elevated over time, as I’ve discovered and written concerning the work of Leo Valledor, Robert Grosvenor, David Novros, and Mark di Suvero — who had been among the many authentic 10 members (evenly cut up between painters and sculptors) of this cooperative gallery — and their collective issues. Since then my curiosity in Fleming has grown. 

As Henderson factors out in her catalogue essay, citing an early supporter of the group, the artwork critic David Bourdon: “this was not classical geometry — akin to Dutch de Stijl — however relatively a dynamic, new geometry of advanced spatial results.” In different phrases, this was not Minimalism and its obeisance to the theories of Clement Greenberg and Donald Judd, their insistence on flatness and the elimination of house in portray. Within the mid-Nineteen Sixties, because the artwork world started to attract boundaries and make use of descriptors to outline teams, the artists related to the Park Place Gallery and their curiosity in what Henderson describes as “spatially advanced, hard-edge portray,” by no means received branded. Partly for that cause, their contributions have been largely missed. 

Dean Fleming, “65 Black” (1965), acrylic on canvas, 32 x 32 x 1 inches

That is what me within the exhibition Dean Fleming: Fourth Dimension at David Richard Gallery (September 16-November 4, 2022). Of the 16 works within the present, 10 are work from 1965 and the remainder are work and works on paper from 1964. The instant, seemingly easy shift from geometric patterning and tessellations, which mix mosaic-like surfaces, to massive, hard-edged, sharply angled planes and diamonds that convey an unstable, optically shifting house, signaled a change in conceptual considering. Regardless of the cause for the change, one factor is clear: Fleming (together with Valledor and Edwin Ruda, whom I’ve but to jot down about) rejected Minimalism, however not geometry.

One of many key options of Jackson Pollock’s poured work was his repudiation of the bounds imposed by the oblong floor with which he interacted. Donald Judd noticed the portray’s nature, as an oblong aircraft positioned flat towards the wall, as an issue. Fleming and his cohort noticed the portray’s nature as an alternative as a problem, and Judd’s place as an orthodoxy that emerged out of a materialist mind-set that ignored each the religious and science, the unseen and the fourth dimension. 

In “Orange Line” (1964), a small gouache (presumably a examine for a portray), Fleming divides the sq. canvas into rows of rectangles, various their width in line with a formulation. He then divides each rectangle into 4 triangles, every a special shade (but if we decide any two adjoining rectangles, we see that Fleming used seven colours relatively than eight). Collectively, the colours and divisions infuse the patterning with a visible instability that stands other than a lot of abstraction from the mid-Nineteen Sixties. 

Dean Fleming, “Orange Line” (1964), gouache on paper, 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches

On the similar time, it’s clear that Fleming’s work weren’t contained by their bodily parameters, and that the patterns convey an uninterrupted continuity that goes past the work’s edges. The optical fluctuations add to the expertise. 

Within the 1965 work, Fleming abandons patterning in favor of bigger and fewer shapes. As a result of the shapes share or intersect with the portray’s edges, none of them appear contained throughout the image aircraft and the compositions obtain a dynamism that contrasts the repetition and static compositions which might be central to Minimalism. Extra importantly, his use of white as a shade in work corresponding to “Black White Crimson,” “Black Blue Crimson White,” and “White Yellow Black” (all 1965) suggests not a flat aircraft, however maybe a gap we will’t see into. By composing the white space as a diamond or culminating it in a pointy triangle, as within the one which factors downward in “Black White Crimson,” Fleming displays the Chilly Conflict period’s preoccupation with spacecraft, and the race to the moon. Well-known for his portray “Black Sq.” (1915), depicting a black sq. on a white floor, Kazimir Malevich, the progressive Russian painter and theorist, believed that white was the colour of infinity and connoted a realm of upper feeling and a website of pure type. Fleming’s work extends out of Malevich’s geometry and that of different Russian Suprematists. 

Dean Fleming, “65 Yellow White and Black” (1965), acrylic on canvas, 70 x 89 1/2 inches

The sharp angles of Fleming’s planes, that are by no means repetitive or modular varieties, recommend that he didn’t settle for the commonplace, reductive narrative of portray’s trajectory, constructing as much as the tautology that artwork needed to be about artwork. This place appears essential, significantly at a time when the artwork world celebrates the materiality of Damien Hirst’s use of business diamonds and Jeff Koons’s high-priced fabrications.

In accordance with some critics, numerous artwork is forgotten for a cause. If we settle for that, we would additionally need to think about that some artwork is remembered, by nevertheless few, for a cause. Whereas the Nineteen Sixties was dominated by Minimalism, Coloration Discipline portray, and Op Artwork — all of which had been branded — Fleming and his cohort by no means achieved that standing. But not having a branded type appears to me an indication of independence that prefigures the present second, when signature kinds and production-line dependability are referred to as into query in some quarters of the artwork world. (Curated by Katy Siegel, with David Reed serving as curatorial advisor, the 2006 touring exhibition Excessive Instances, Arduous Instances: New York Portray 1967 – 1975 served to remind us that the historical past of portray stays difficult, fascinating, difficult, and energetic.) The truth that Fleming will not be higher recognized reiterates that there’s nonetheless extra to be executed. 

Dean Fleming, “Tunis” (1964), gouache on paper, 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches
Dean Fleming, “65 Purple” (1965), acrylic on canvas, 32 x 32 inches

Dean Fleming: Fourth Dimension continues at David Richard Gallery (526 West twenty sixth Avenue, Suite 311, Chelsea, Manhattan) by means of November 4. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.

Leave a Comment